Reader Question: I missed a payment on my credit card this month by more than a week. Will that affect my credit score?

Answer: Great question. Many people think that missing a payment even by a day can negatively affect their credit score. In most cases, being a few days late on a payment is not going to do anything to your credit score. Most lenders don’t report late payments until you are 30 or more days late on your payment. You might even notice on your credit report that late payments are denoted in groupings of 30 days. (Ex. 30 days late, 60 days late, 90 days late, etc.)

What If I’m More Than 30 Days Late?

You may still be able to have the late payment removed from your credit report. If this is your first time being late or you have a track record of paying on time, you can usually convince the lender to remove (or not report) the late payment to the credit bureaus. Your lender decides how your account is being reported to the credit bureaus, so no matter what the issue, it is always a good idea to contact them and ask nicely for them to remove (or add) something to your report.

How Do Late Payments Affect My Score?

It depends on how many you have. Late payments fall under the “credit history” portion of your credit report, which, for FICO, accounts for 30% of your credit score. If you have one late payment over 30 years of stellar credit history, then your score shouldn’t be affected much. If you have 10 late payments over 5 years of credit history, your score is going to see a bigger drop. It also depends on the other factors that are used to calculate your credit score, including length of your credit history and your credit utilization ration. The credit utilization ratio determines how much credit vs. debt you are carrying. So if you have a $10,000 credit limit, and you have $5,000 on your card in debt, you are using 50% of your credit, which can drag your score down. The higher the percentage, the lower your score, so try to keep that ratio low.

The bottom line is that a late payment is only one small factor, and the health of your credit report will determine how damaging one late payment will be to your credit score.

How Do I Find My Credit Score and Credit Report?

If you just want to check your credit scores and aren’t worried about looking at your report, Credit Sesame offers a free credit score tracker. You don’t have to enter any credit card information or anything to get your score, so it’s better than most “free” services out there. If you are looking to get your credit report, you can get one credit report for free each year from the government, or you can track your monthly score through credit report monitoring services. We rank the top ones here, but you can also do your own research to find one that works for you.